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Biltmore House - America's Largest Home

Updated on September 28, 2007

The Biltmore House is the largest privately-owned home in America. This French Renaissance chateau is located near Asheville, North Carolina. It was built between 1888 and 1895 by George Vanderbilt II and covers 4 acres with175,000 square feet. The house has 250 rooms, including 35 guest and family rooms, 43 bathrooms, 3 kitchens, and 65 fireplaces.

Vanderbilt chose to build in the Asheville area because he liked the climate and scenery. His idea was to replicate the working estates of Europe. Vanderbilt named Biltmore by combining the words "Bildt," which was the area in Holland where the Vanderbilt family came from, and "more," an old English word that refers to rolling hills. This National Historic Site was designed by architect Richard Hunt, and the surrounding acres of gardens were the creation of Frederick Olmsted.

The Biltmore House was made with tons of Indiana limestone, which was transported by a special railway spur built just to move the huge amount of supplies and materials to the site. The home was first opened by the Vanderbilts to family and friends on Christmas Eve in 1895. Today, it remains largely as it was when the Vanderbilts lived there over 100 years ago. Many of the family's original furnishings and antiques are still on display.

Approximately 1 million visitors each year are amazed at the 70,000 gallon indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, two-story library, turn-of-the-century exercise equipment, and 19th century novelties like elevators, forced-air heating, centrally-controlled clocks, fire alarms, and intercom system.

Biltmore was first opened to the public in 1930 at the request of Asheville city officials, who hoped it would help lift tourism in the area during the Great Depression. The Biltmore Company now encompasses Biltmore House, Gardens, Winery, and River Bend Farm; Inn on Biltmore Estate; Biltmore Estate Wine Company; and Biltmore licensed products.

Highlights on the Estate Grounds:

Biltmore Gardens - Formal and informal gardens with lush landscaping. The All- America Rose Garden features more than 250 varieties of roses.

River Bend Farm - Allows visitors to see what it was like to live and work on the estate in the 1890's. Includes craft demonstrations, animals, antique farm equipment, a kitchen garden, an old-fashioned mercantile store, and a creamery.

1890's Estate Life - Guests can experience the everyday life of families who lived on the estate raising crops and livestock and working at Biltmore Dairy in the 1890s. The River Bend Barn, which was the work and social center for these families, is still active with blacksmiths, woodworkers, craft demonstrations, live bluegrass bands, and more.

Kitchen Garden - This four-acre garden displays a variety of vegetables, fruits, and culinary and medicinal plants.

The grounds and buildings of Biltmore Estate have been used in many motion pictures:

  • The Clearing (2002)
  • Hannibal (2001)
  • Patch Adams (1998)
  • My Fellow Americans (1996)
  • Richie Rich (1994)
  • Forrest Gump (1994)
  • Last of the Mohicans (1992)
  • Mr. Destiny (1990)
  • The Private Eyes (1981)
  • Being There (1979)
  • The Swan (1956)
  • Tap Roots (1948)

Visiting Tips:

  • Arrive early. Biltmore opens at 9:00 a.m. (January-March) & 8:30 a.m. April-December.
  • Arrive after 3:00 p.m. and visit the next day for free.


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    • scarlton profile image

      scarlton 8 years ago from Boonville, NC

      It's a magnificent home to see! Living in North Carolina my whole life, I've visited Biltmore House several times myself. Great hub!

    • profile image

      chris 8 years ago

      holy crap that is the biggest house ive ever seen